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Iron Goat Trail

Whether a summer hike or a winter snowshoe, the former grade of the Great Northern Railway, and Seattle’s first railroad connection to the East, makes a pleasant mountain ramble easily accessible from either side of the Cascades.

More than 100 years ago, the Empire Builder railroad rumbled west from Minnesota through a narrow gap in the Cascades named for railroad engineer John F. Stevens. The trains are long gone, but the route remains, offering hikers the opportunity to walk in the path of this relic transit line and witness some of the artifacts of a mountain crossing railway — and visit the site of a 1910 disaster.

Beginning at the Iron Goat Scenic Trailhead and Interpretive Site, you have the choice of following the grade westward to the workcamp site known as Cornea or taking the Windy Point Cutoff to the upper grade. The Cutoff trail is only about a mile, but is very steep. If you’re snowshoeing, this trail can be difficult to navigate, so we recommend you skip the Cutoff in winter and take the normal route.

The grade westward to Cornea is never steep, as it was originally intended for trains, and hikers will enjoy the shady, thick forest that line the path.
Although the roar of Highway 2 never fully recedes, the forest is welcoming and pleasant.

Along the way, which is well signed, thanks to efforts from volunteers, you’ll quickly encounter impressive concrete retaining walls built to anchor snowsheds to the mountainside and replicas of mileposts marking your distance from St. Paul. Crumbling tunnels yawn invitingly along the route, necessitating more than a few side trips to peer cautiously into the darkness—but do not enter!

Just short of two miles from the Interpretive Center, give your brain a rest from digesting history, and enjoy a view up Deception Creek valley. You're nearly to the junction with the Corea Crossover Trail -- only a half mile to go! From the junction, the Iron Goat continues straight on to the Martin Creek trailhead, where WTA work crews have worked to improve the trail. Hike to this other end, or continue on to complete a loop hike that will end back at the parking lot you started from.

To complete the loop, you can turn right, passing a short spur trail (the Spillway Spur) to a reservoir. On the way, enjoy waterfalls, which run high and impressive in the spring. You can also bask in the views from overlooks of gorgeous nearby mountains. After hiking for nearly 4.5 miles, you will come to the junction with Windy Point Crossover Trail.

Take the Windy Point Crossover Trail back to your car, but don't forget to take a short side trip to Windy Point for more mountain views. This spur trail is only 0.25 round trip.

If the loop hike is too much, there are plenty of other options. With nine miles of trail and three different trailheads, the Iron Goat Trail has more than enough to explore. The trail sections between the Martin Creek Trailhead and the Scenic Trailhead and between the Wellington Trailhead and Windy Point are ADA accessible and stroller friendly in the summer months.
Driving Directions:

Take U.S. Highway 2 to milepost 58 at Scenic. Turn north on Old Cascade Highway, FR 67 and go 2.3 miles to FR6710. Turn onto FR6710 and go 1.4 miles to the Martin Creek trailhead parking lot and the Iron Goat Interpretive Site.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 90 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Iron Goat Trail-Stevens Pass-West — Sep 12, 2013 — RoseTheMarmot
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Fall foliage | Ripe berries
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Saw lots of mushrooms and butterflies, even a Pika! The trail is in great condition....
Saw lots of mushrooms and butterflies, even a Pika! The trail is in great condition.
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Iron Goat Trail-Wellington Trail Head — Aug 25, 2013 — Happypigs
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage | Ripe berries
Issues: Bugs
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This was a beautiful hike. We found huckleberries and little chipmunk's. Bugs, Yes...they were these...
This was a beautiful hike. We found huckleberries and little chipmunk's. Bugs, Yes...they were these flies that like to bite and As long as we were moving they left us alone! Nothing that bug spray or pants could solve! I have kids with me and they did well. This trail doesn't have a huge incline.
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Iron Goat Trail-Stevens Pass-West — Aug 21, 2013 — geezerhiker
Day hike
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My wife and I hiked from the Wellington TH and were amazed at the magnitude of the Snowshed Tunnel p...
My wife and I hiked from the Wellington TH and were amazed at the magnitude of the Snowshed Tunnel project. It is impressive. The trail is very easy.
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Iron Goat Loop — Jul 28, 2013 — Joy
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Bugs
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Wildlife sighting: pika...
Wildlife sighting: pika
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Iron Goat Loop — Jul 21, 2013 — Cheetarzan
Day hike
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First time on this hike. Started at the big red caboose and took the long slow incline. Intersting ...
First time on this hike. Started at the big red caboose and took the long slow incline. Intersting historical info. Pleasant second growth hike. Definitely worth the extra half mile to see the scenic view. Then down the steep trail from windy point, back to the caboose. What were the people thinking, climbing that hot, steep trail instead of the cool green traverse? Saw one young woman starting up it wearing only flip-flops. I doubt she stuck with it very long.
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iron goat trail hiker steve.JPG
WTA worked here!
2010
Location
Iron Goat Trail (#1074)
Central Cascades -- Stevens Pass - West
Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Skykomish Ranger District
Statistics
Roundtrip 6.0 miles
Elevation Gain 700 ft
Highest Point 2800 ft
Features
Rivers
Mountain views
Ridges/passes
User info
Dogs allowed on leash
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Green Trails 176S: Stevens Pass

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Red MarkerIron Goat Trail
47.7120293 -121.1622797
  • Trail Work 2010
(47.7120, -121.1623) Open in new window
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